Research within the PET Imaging Centre

Active areas of research on site include the development and evaluation of new tracers. In addition to this we work on the development and assessment of new clinical PET indications, co-ordination of national cancer trials using PET-CT imaging and new PET technology and data analysis methods.
The PET Imaging Centre is closely linked with other researchers within the Division of Imaging Sciences and has collaborations within and outside the Hospital and Medical School. Projects are funded from a wide range of sources including EPSRC, Wellcome Trust, Department of Health, Industry, CRUK, etc.


Clinical Research

Overview by Professor M J O'Doherty

Our clinical research is to extend the use of PET imaging in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. We are particularly interested in the role of the most common tracer, fluorodeoxyglucose ,in the management of patients, with a particular bias towards monitoring therapy response and the development of the role in therapy planning. This work has recently involved coordinating national studies of nonseminomatous germ cell tumours (Dr R Huddart Royal Marsden Hospital), Hodgkins Lymphoma (PI Prof J Radford Christie Hospital Manchester and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (Dr G Mikhaeel Guys and St Thomas Hospital)). We have extensive experience with Soft Tissue Sarcomas and Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours linked with the specialist Neurofibromatosis Unit (Dr R Ferner Guys and St Thomas' Hospital). Close collaboration with the Thoracic surgeons has enabled the unit to examine the relationship of SUV with overall prognosis of patients with lung cancer and considerable experience with patients with mesothelioma. We also have developed significant expertise in the role of PET and PET-CT in the management of children with cancer, as well as cardiac and neurological problems.

The nature of our unit is to provide a stable infrastructure for service imaging to underpin health, economic research, and basic science research for a number of research groups. The presence of an on site radiochemistry facility and cyclotron supports our goal to research non-FDG PET tracers. Currently, work has been done with F-18 misonidazole (Mr MA Smith Guys and st Thomas Hospital), O-15 water (Prof S Amiel, Mr MA Smith, Dr L Reed), Copper-64 ATSM (Prof M Saunders UCLH) and ammonia. Within 6 months a variety of other tracers will be available (see chemistry section).

The Clinical workload of the department is high, using two PET-CT scanners ,with a close working relationship with other research groups (Prof S Amiel (King's College London), Prof M Kopelman (Guys and St Thomas Hospital), Dr L Reed (Institute of Psychiatry)), performing both basic science and clinically based research. Our Imaging Chemists are developing new tracers and have links with basic scientists (Prof P Blower (Kings College London)). Our imaging physicists also have an ongoing research programme, including the development of combined PET-MR imaging (Prof P Marsden - see physics research section).

The aim over the next 2 years is to continue to develop national clinical studies with a health economic element to assess the role of FDG in various disease processes. We also intend to develop the non-FDG based tracers to assess malignancy and have an ongoing programme with regard to the use of PET in radiotherapy planning; this links well with image registration research that we have performed to assess tumours (Dr P Marsden, Dr E Somer). The clinical research will run alongside the basic science research outlined in the other research areas.

Setting up a research project

Please look here for information outlining how to set up a research study at the PET Imaging Centre at St Thomas'.

Current Research Projects

To get an overview of current research projects happening at the PET Imaging Centre at St Thomas' please look here.



S.F. Barrington, M.N. Maisey and R.L. Wahl. Atlas of Clinical Positron Emission Tomography. Pub. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006